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We store sugar in a ceramic canister, and we get some clumping. Restaurants in humid areas that will often add grains of a rice to a salt shaker to stop clumping. (The rice acts as a desiccant and absorbs moisture, keeping it away from the salt; I believe the salt also acts as a preservative for the rice.) Is there an equivalent common household item that will keep moisture away from the sugar, or is getting a better canister really the only way?

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This appears to be pretty similar to this question: cooking.stackexchange.com/questions/3935/… and to this one: cooking.stackexchange.com/questions/11648/… –  Allison Feb 12 '11 at 22:16
    
My mistake ... I just realised that you are probably referring to white sugar. –  Allison Feb 12 '11 at 22:26

5 Answers 5

up vote 9 down vote accepted

You can still add rice, just wrap it in some cheesecloth first, so it doesn't get mixed with your sugar.

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The reason I'm uncomfortable with this is that, in a salt shaker with rice, I've heard the salt keeps microorganisms from growing in the rice. I suspect that sugar wouldn't inhibit growth. –  Neil Fein Mar 2 '11 at 19:14
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@neil: It absolutely will. The mechanism is the same: no water, no growth. Sugar is wildly hygroscopic, and has long been used to preserve fruits and meats (e.g. fruit jelly, and sugar cured ham). Now sugar in a solution, not so much. If you open your canister of sugar and it's mostly liquid...I'd discard it. –  Satanicpuppy Mar 2 '11 at 19:28

Another solution is to save the little silica dessicant packages that come in many prescription drug packages. They are blue when they are fresh, and turn pink as they absorb moisture. Once pink they can be dried out by gently heating in the oven for a few minutes (10-15 mins at 200F or so). Place in the bottom of the sugar jar and check on them every few weeks or months, depending on the ambient humidity in your region.

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I use a specialty ceramic stone to keep my brown sugar from clumping.

I found this product page http://www.cooksquarters.com/19386341.htm that has a pretty thorough description of a "Sugar Saver" that can be soaked to keep sugar moist, or dried in an oven to keep spices dry. Depending on what your sugar needs, you can probably use something like this.

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Would this also work with white sugar? The product seems to be specifically for brown sugar. –  Neil Fein Jan 24 '11 at 16:12
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A sugar saver would be a Bad Idea (TM) in white sugar. The way these work is adding moisture, which is good for keeping brown sugar from getting rock-hard, but which is specifically what you want to avoid in white sugar. –  Marti Jan 24 '11 at 19:14
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The instructions on that particular product also indicate it can be dried out. @Marti, Wouldn't a dried stone accomplish the task of keeping the sugar dry? –  Peach Jan 24 '11 at 21:12

I use a piece of bread in the canister.
It works in the same manner as rice does.

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The bread doesn't get moldy? For how long does this work? –  Neil Fein Mar 2 '11 at 19:16

Gilladian is very correct about using silica dessicant packages except for these issues...

  1. The Silica that turns pink when it has absorbed moisture is known as "indcating silica gel" and has a chemical in it that is NOT FOOD SAFE! (you can find out about it on line).

  2. The silica packets found in prescription drugs often contain other ingredients like carbon (which absorbs odors), and some others I won't go into.

  3. The silica packets found in prescription drugs have been mostly 'used up' by keeping the drugs fresh so the drug companies can get a longer shelf life.

That said, I found a wonderful product called Dry Spice that is especially made to put in with sugar, spices, almost everything. It is the perfect size and shape to fit in any size spice jar or whatever, is 100% natural, and perfectly food safe...and wors REALLY GOOD! Check out www.dryspice.com and you will see what I mean.


Readers beware: The user who posted this has an undisclosed affiliation with the above product. Food-grade silica gel is readily available on the market and readers are encouraged to do their own research.

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This is vaguely spammy, especially since your profile links to this site and this answer is your only activity on the site. (A disclaimer might counter that.) However, even though the question is asking for an "equivalent common household item", it could be a useful solution. How long do these last? Has anyone else used this? –  Neil Fein Mar 13 '11 at 20:32
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Please see our FAQ and specifically the second-to-last paragraph about self-promotion. It's no problem if you've got a useful answer that happens to mention one of your products but you need to prominently disclose your affiliation. This is otherwise a decent answer and it would be a shame to have to delete it. –  Aaronut Mar 13 '11 at 21:04

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